The Economist‘s Art.view column is all wrapped up in New York’s Asia Week results and the strength of mainland Chinese buying:
In stark contrast to Western buyers, for whom collecting Chinese art is a pastime enjoyed by the middle-aged and the elderly, Chinese buyers are often young and wealthy and hail from all over China—not just Beijing and Shanghai, but as far afield as Yunan, Xian and Mongolia. They are part of a growing fraternity that regards bringing home national treasures as one of the highest expressions of patriotism. “At the very top of the market, the Chinese still face competition from the richest and most determined European and American buyers,” says James Hennessy, of Littleton & Hennessy, a dealer that bids on behalf of a number of Western and Asian collectors. “But almost every lot up to $500,000 was snapped up by collectors from the mainland. They are out in force, buying whatever they can lay their hands on.”[…] Grossing $40m, Christie’s sale was three times the size of Sotheby’s, and it was the biggest Chinese sale the auctioneer had ever held in New York. For taking bids, 25 extra telephone lines were installed, more than half of which were manned by fluent Chinese speakers. The roster of collectors prepared to sell was also impressive. They included works from the Arthur Sackler collection, which has been dispersed in chunks over the past 16 years, and the first-ever sale from the collection of Robert BlumenfiBeld, a California collector with well over 1,000 major pieces. Last week’s sale was entirely made up from his holdings of carved ivory and rhinoceros horn. Some American collectors are concerned that the trade in materials from endangered animals will become more restricted. Mr Blumenfield is not alone in disposing of these works.
Twisting Arms (Economist)